City of Gold by Mahesh Manjrekar treads the path between a classic movie and commercial movie and hits you hard. Packed with powerful performances, characterization and an earthy cast the movie wins over us in most of the scenes barring few jerky moments that can be excused.
The movie starts with Baba (Ankush Chaudhary) taking you back to 80’s and recounting his life in the urban poor chawl and how his family consisting his parents, two brothers and sisters fought for survival during the time when mills where shut down due to mill owners-mafia-politician nexus capitalizing on the real estate boom.
The director captures the family as the canvas to showcase the grim reality that creeped in the life of thousands who lost their job and whose lives took a turn to despair, bad and ugly. Seema Biswas brilliantly sketches the role of the mother who helplessly sees the life crumpling around and her children caught in various circumstances of despair. Scenes like when the mother beats his son who returns from police station and night when everyone is asleep weeps and applies medicine to him, when the family discovers that the unmarried daughter is pregnant, and her silent weep in hospital when her daughter gets the abortion done numbs the audience…
Yes, the director traversing various characters and sub-plots of the characters have wavered from the core theme of the movie that is the plight of the mill owners and rather made it appear like a plight of a family but then as it is the movie did strike chord. Karan Patel as Naru, Siddharth Jhadav as Speed breaker stays in your thoughts even after the movie is over. The background score works brilliantly and a big relief is the movie has no song except for the title track.
The one thing that let me down was the ending scene of the movie. The director could have dealt it differently but then criminals do exists so even that could be excused but the flaw is it hijacks the emotional chord the director struck throughout the movie.
GingerChai Verdict: A de-glamorised movie with no star appeal but strikes the chord with raw power. A hard hitting movie that you might well watch. The move may not be appealing everyone. If you like a serious subject made with a dash of commercial mix, you will like it.
Unfortunately, there were only 6 people in the entire hall watching the movie along with me. So if you want to watch it, rush this weekend, it may not be in theaters for long.